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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Creepy Crawly Halloween Sensory Play Tray

We love sensory play here and make sensory trays for pretty much any theme, including Halloween. This creepy crawly Halloween sensory play tray is a great way for toddlers and preschoolers to join in the Halloween fun without getting too scared. They can scoop, pour, touch, feel and investigate minibeasts and creepy crawlies until their heart's content.

child investigating bugs, bats and rats in halloween sensory rice


The best thing about this Halloween sensory bin is that once you've made the sensory rice {instructions further below} it only takes a minute to put together, but it'll keep your little one occupied for ages. It also provides lots of learning opportunities such as fine motor skill development, sensory stimulation and exploration, imaginary play and language development.


Halloween items generally start appearing in supermarkets and department stores from September and there's usually a few options of different mini plastic cauldrons each year. We add to our Halloween play stash each year and now have a set of pumpkin, skull and plain black witches cauldrons. In Australia stores like Spotlight, Riot Art & Craft, Kmart, Target, Daiso and even Coles & Woolworths seem to be bringing out more and more Halloween items each year. In America you can get Halloween items almost all year round online at Amazon.

For this play tray we added a magnifying glass and tweezers which are readily available at toy stores like The Creative Toy Shop or Amazon. Shallow trays can also be picked up quite cheap from department stores, hardware shops or even garden centres. We actually used a brand new kitty litter tray for this activity, which was my go to tray before Kmart brought our their super popular drinks tray {aka the Kmart play tray}.


In the lead up to Halloween plastic creepy crawlies should be easy to find at local dollar shops, department stores and even supermarkets. There's usually a huge variety to choose from including spiders, rats, bugs, bats etc. If you're buying when they're not readily available at local shops, or you just prefer to shop online, you can get lots all year round from Amazon.


Sensory rice is our favourite type of sensory base, because it's so cheap and quick to make, and you can make it any colour you like. All of the ingredients to make it can be bought from the supermarket for only a few dollars and you can get quite a few batches of sensory rice from one packet of rice.

It's also great as it's a dry sensory base so if it does spill while playing it's easy to sweep or vacuum up. We store ours in plastic takeaway containers and have some batches which have lasted years {the secret is to add vinegar as it stops any mould from forming}.

  • I cup white rice
  • Food colouring
  • White vinegar
  • Ziplock bag
  • Baking paper


1. Put one cup of uncooked white rice into a ziplock bag. 

2. Add in a few drops of liquid food colouring {either yellow and red, or orange if you have it}.

3. Add a bottle cap of white vinegar.

4. Seal the bag and scrunch the rice around within the bag until all of the rice is evenly dyed.

5. Lay a piece of baking paper on a flat tray and pour the dyed rice onto the tray.

6. Leave the rice to dry for a few hours, or overnight, until it's completely dry.

halloween sensory play tray with orange sensory rice

To set up a creepy, crawly Halloween sensory play tray simply add the orange sensory rice to a shallow tray and then add in some plastic creepy crawlies and some mini cauldrons or pumpkin pales. We also added in a set of tweezers and a magnifying glass for more investigation. 

This simple sensory bin can be played with in so many different ways, for example: 

  • Hide the animals in the rice 
  • Scoop and pour the rice with the cauldrons
  • Pick up the animals with the tweezers
  • Investigate the animals with the magnifying glass 
  • Count how many animals there are
  • Categorise the animals by type

These are all on top of good old imaginary play which is bound to happen depending on your child's age.


  • Animal names
  • Categorising 
  • Hypothesising
  • Hand/eye co-ordination
  • Fine motor development
  • Language development
  • Imaginative play

creepy crawly halloween sensory play tray


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